It doesn’t make sense, packing for two years. Where do I put the ironing board? Begin thinking of how you would pack for two years with a limit of 104 lbs and you’ll realize how much you’re going to leave behind.
I imagine some PCVs will be stuck in an airport explaining why he’s bringing a pizza slicer onto the plane—I would be smart enough to pack mine in checked luggage. Peace Corps says that most volunteers bring too much with them.
Our baggage limit equals about three to four large duffel bags stuffed with clothes (or cutlery). There’s a chapter in the Peace Corps handbook, How to Pack for Two Years, which is an interesting idea. Yet when I spoke with a RPCV, I was told,
That’s a terrible idea. Who told you to pack for two years?
Suddenly the hypothetical question,
If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one book/shirt/album/etc., what would it be? is a packing mantra. What the RPCV meant was that I shouldn’t pack as if I were on vacation, because to pack enough mouthwash for two years would require a crate.
Instead, I should pack as if I’m moving to a far away place. The things I take with me are the things I’m going to cling to as I transition into Peace Corps life. Think Lawrence of Arabia. He went to Arabia dressed as a British officer. He left looking like an Arab. It’s an stupid example, sure, but I think that a great part of the Peace Corps is dressing and living in a similar manner to the locals.
So here is what I’m taking. It’s a long list, so skip it if you like:
- 2 pairs cotton slacks (wrinkle-free type)
- 2 pairs jeans
- 3 dress shirts (to look ‘professional’)
- 1 blazer
- 1 tie
- 3 T-shirts from my college
- 15 pairs socks
- 10 pairs boxers
- 3 undershirts
- 1 rain slicker
- 1 fleece jacket
- 1 pair gloves
- 1 warm hat (Thanks to Steph G.)
- 2 pairs shorts
- 1 baseball cap
- 1 pair long underwear
- 1 pair hiking boots
- 1 pair Teva sandals (Chacos are better)
- 1 pair dress shoes
- 1 pair sneakers
- 1 tape recorder and 2 blank tapes
- 4 tapes of music
- 1 shortwave radio
- 1 solar AA battery charger, 12 rechargeable batteries
- 1 camera
- 1 world almanac
- 1 Iliad (Lattimore translation, of course)
- 1 journal
- 1 body/hand towel (like a chamois)
- 1 medium backpack (frameless Lowe Alpine Mountain 70)
- 1 satchel
- 1 Maglight
- 1 Peace Corps Handbook and 1 Welcome to Peace Corps/Nepal
- 1 stainless steel flask
- 1 Nalgene bottle
- Fistful of locks
- 1 small sewing kit
- 1 small first-aid kit
- 1 small shaving lotion, 1 toothpaste, 1 shampoo, etc.
- 1 Teach Yourself Nepali with the audio tapes
- 1 photo album (with photos)
- 1 ultralight sleeping bag
- 1 fleece blanket
All this fits into a garment bag and a large, wheeled duffel bag. The garment bag and camera case will be carried onto the plane.
I read somewhere that 1 out of 200 pieces of luggage never reach their destination. There will be 58 PCVs on the plane to Kathmandu, which makes that statistic pretty grim.